From stuffing and mashed potatoes to crisp salads and roasted veggies, each one of these Thanksgiving side dishes will win over everyone at the table.
For a holiday that’s all about food, there can be a whole lots of lifeless mashed potatoes, brown mushy stuffing, or soggy green bean casserole. But all it takes is a few little tweaks, and your Thanksgiving side dishes can be vibrant, good-for-you, and drop dead delicious. Here are all our tricks on how to make side dishes that will be enjoyed by everyone around the table. We guarantee that they’ll ask for seconds!
What does healthy mean? All of these Thanksgiving side dishes utilize the very best of seasonal produce, from brilliant sweet potatoes and butternut squash, to crispy Brussels sprouts to tender roasted cauliflower florets. Our recipes use moderate amounts of healthy fats like olive oil. All of them are vegetarian, and many of them are vegan, plant-based, and gluten free as well. They’re meant to be enjoyed by all sorts of diets: and best of all, they taste incredible. A few other great resources, before we start:
Sweet potatoes are often amped with sweetness as a Thanksgiving side dish: but why not turn that on its head? Here they're combined with Yukon gold potatoes and garlic, and mashed together into a savory sweet puree. Topped with chives, they'll be a hit with everyone around the table. Top with Vegetarian Gravy, Mushroom Gravy, or Vegan Gravy.
Next up in our Thanksgiving side dishes: green bean casserole! But this ain’t your mama’s green bean casserole: it's a fresh spin made all from scratch! It’s got crisp tender green beans and real mushrooms. The creamy sauce coats each of the beans, but isn’t gloppy. And it’s got a new take on the traditional fried onion topping: using crushed potato chips! Here's a modern take on this holiday favorite made on the stovetop or a pressure cooker!
There are mashed potatoes, and then there are roasted garlic mashed potatoes! These creamy, dreamy mashed potatoes are scented with the sweet aromatic flavor of roasted garlic. It’s milder and more luxurious than the typical pungent bite of the raw stuff. Mix it together with creamy Yukon gold potatoes and a bit of Parmesan cheese, and it’s truly something magical.
Here's a side dish that will blow your Thanksgiving guests away with its flavor and beautiful colors! These roasted apples with cauliflower are a unique pairing that everyone will be talking about. The sweetness of the apple works perfectly with the savory cauliflower: and topping with fresh dill brings an herbaceous note. The best part? The bright purple of the roasted onion against the bright pink of the apple is stunning.
These braised vegetables taste like they’ve been roasting under a chicken all day long! But they’re fully plant based and healthy, bursting with flavor that takes cozy to the next level. They're the perfect side dish to any main, with the jewel toned purple onion and orange carrot. Ready to get braising?
Why mash potatoes when you can roast them to a golden crisp? We’ve always been partial to a crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside potato. These are our favorite oven roasted red potatoes, baked until crispy with garlic powder, then showered with fresh herbs.
Here's a hearty Thanksgiving side: delicata squash salad! Here, delicata squash is roasted until caramelized and tender. It's served over a bed of baby greens with pistachios, pepitas, goat cheese crumbles and pomegranate seeds. Toss it with a honey mustard vinaigrette, and it's a colorful, fresh and healthy side everyone will love!
Here's a mix of the very best roasted vegetables! Perfect as a colorful Thanksgiving side dish recipe, this veggie mix features cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, red onion, and sweet potato. Mix it together with our magic seasoning blend, and roast it up! It makes two sheet pans, enough to feed a crowd!
Ever had shaved Brussels sprouts? When you eat them raw, Brussels sprouts are crunchy with a mild flavor: a little like a sweeter-flavored cabbage! Here they make the most delightful salad that makes you feel like you're getting healthier with every bite. The spouts are mixed with crisp apple and tart pomegranate seeds and covered in a tangy vinaigrette.
Cozy butternut squash soup is perfect as a Thanksgiving first course recipe or side! This one features coconut milk and fresh ginger: and is just the right amount of creamy and sweet! This one always gets rave reviews. Swirl with coconut milk and prepare to be amazed.
Roasting onions in a hot oven mellows their flavor until its deeply caramelized and sweet. Pair that with a hint of balsamic vinegar and herbaceous fresh thyme, and…just wow! Those simple flavors make an effortless side dish that goes with almost anything.
The other best way to eat Brussels sprouts? Roasting them in a hot oven until they're crisp! These are the exact opposite of the soggy canned version, and you won't be able to stop eating them. Watch out for those salty, crunchy leaves that fall off onto the pan! To take them up a notch, serve with a maple balsamic glaze. It's a winning (and healthy) Thanksgiving side dish.
The best way to cook carrots as a side dish? Roast 'em! They come out tender, lightly charred, and sweetly earthy. Roasting them with lemon wedges gives a brightness of flavor, and fresh thyme sprigs add a hint of complexity. Give that raw carrot a glamorous makeover for Thanksgiving! You’ll be glad you did.
This spinach apple salad is as easy as it is tasty! No one will believe it took minutes to put together. Start with a bed of greens and add crisp apple and pear. Our best balsamic vinaigrette covers it in tangy sweet goodness, and the best part? Maple-glazed walnuts or pecans! Just 1 to 2 minutes in a hot skillet with maple syrup makes the nuts come out shiny and lightly sweet.
Here are the perfect roasted sweet potatoes, diced and mixed with a hint of garlic powder, salt and olive oil. Bake them in a very hot oven until they're roasty and caramelized, and they're the absolute perfect side.
This beet salad is the perfect Thanksgiving side dish, a fresh, crisp counterpoint to roasty vegetables! Sweet roasted beets are paired with our tangy Best Balsamic Vinaigrette. Top with thinly sliced shallots and pistachios, and it's a showy centerpiece for entertaining. Try our Instant Pot Beets to cook the beets in half the time it takes to roast them!
Deviled eggs are part of our traditional Thanksgiving side dishes: are they for you? These are totally classic and taste amazing. They’ve got a twist: Greek yogurt in the filling along with the mayo. Along with both yellow and Dijon mustard, it adds the perfect flavoring to these eggs without being overly rich! Garnish with dried dill or smoked paprika, or a mix of the two to make it festive.
Instead of covering root vegetables in marshmallows and maple syrup: why not simply roast them in a hot oven until tender and sweet? Yes, this roasted vegetables side dish is basic, but it's extraordinarily good. This recipe features a combination of sweet potatoes and carrots, roasted with garlic and fresh rosemary. The scent alone brings Thanksgiving to your kitchen.
No need for turkey here: this gravy is 100% vegan and plant based! Made simply with onion, flour, vegetable broth, and almond milk, it's seasoned with thyme and whole fennel seeds to bring in a meaty undertone. If you're looking for something to please meatless eaters at the table, they'll love drowning their plate in this gravy. Also try: Perfect Vegetarian Gravy.
Delicata squash is a variety of squash that's extraordinarily sweet and cooks quickly. The skin is edible, so you don't even need to peel! It's an oblong shape that makes it perfect for cutting into half moon-shapes. Roast them in a hot oven, and they come out sweet and tender: in just 20 minutes!
Why opt for soggy green bean casserole when you can have tangy roasted green beans? These beans are roasted in a hot oven until tender, then spritzed with fresh lemon juice to bring a tang. Here we've topped them with hazelnuts for a nutty crunch (optional). These get rave reviews, making them one of our top Thanksgiving side dishes.
Here's a whole grain side dish that's perfect for Thanksgiving: farro with mushrooms! It's bursting with flavor: savory mushrooms, garlic, and fresh thyme and oregano. Add a spritz of fresh lemon juice and some grated Parmesan cheese and well, its pretty heavenly.
This cabbage salad features Savoy cabbage, a variety with a mild, sweeter flavor than standard green cabbage. The leaves are crinkled and when thinly sliced, they look like beautiful frizzy confetti. Here it's combined with crisp apples and crunchy walnuts, then topped with sliced Parmesan. It's got just the right Thanksgiving vibe: and check your local farmers market for Savoy cabbage.
What's a better Thanksgiving side dish than the signature veggie of the season: butternut squash? This tasty Roasted Butternut Squash is simple and classic, roasted in a very hot oven until it's irresistibly sweet and caramelized. If you'd like, top it with a dollop of Greek yogurt for a creamy counterpoint (for vegan, use Cashew Cream). For a real treat, Quick Pickled Onions add a crunch and a tang.
Ever massaged your kale? For this Thanksgiving side dish, you'll need to get your hands dirty! Massaging kale makes it tender and sweet instead of crunchy and bitter. It makes for a fantastic salad base: here it's combined with apples and pomegranate and drizzled in a tangy vinaigrette.
Here’s a modern spin on a wild rice casserole that’s cozy and all about whole foods! This broccoli cheese version is truly spectacular. It starts with our Perfect Wild Rice cooked with celery and onion, which you could serve as a side on its own. Then it's flecked with savory bits of sauteed broccoli, gooey white cheddar, and a creamy easy-to-make filling. It's a crowd pleaser!
Here's a Thanksgiving side dish that's full of nutrients at every turn! You've got butternut squash and fingerling potatoes, roasted with red onion, garlic and fresh herbs. Then you've got protein-packed quinoa, mixed with olive oil and tangy balsamic vinegar. These good-for-you ingredients are a fantastic filling side dish for vegetarian and vegan eaters.
This crisp salad is a fan favorite and the perfect antidote to rich and creamy Thanksgiving dishes! It's made simply of apples and Manchego cheese cut into matchsticks, with a bit of olive oil and some sliced chives. Nothing pretentious — just pure ingredients combined in a simple way to make each shine. The way the apples and cheese are cut into matchsticks makes it hard to distinguish between the two – it's all the more fun to guess what will be part of each bite!
Instead of mashing potatoes to a pulp like the most classic of Thanksgiving side dishes, what about roasting them? Mixing baby potatoes with olive oil and salt and then baking them in the oven makes them crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. In this recipe, you'll thinly slice lemon and roast it alongside, infusing a tangy flavor throughout.
And last up in our Thanksgiving side dishes: what table would be complete without stuffing! This one is seriously tasty, and at the same time it's vegetarian and vegan with a healthy spin. It's made with whole grain artisan bread, baked with leeks, onion and celery and spices that make the entire kitchen smell like Thanksgiving: no turkey needed!
Need Thanksgiving desserts?
Here are a few Thanksgiving desserts to pair with these side dishes:
Place the Yukon gold potatoes in a large pot and cover with 3 to 4 inches of water; add a generous amount of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then add the sweet potatoes after 5 minutes. Boil 10 to 15 minutes more until both types of potatoes are tender. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the water. Return the potatoes to the pot.
In the pot, pour back the 1/2 cup water to potatoes. Add the grated garlic (you can grate it right in), milk, kosher salt, chopped chives, and fresh ground black pepper. Mash until the desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately.
Keywords: Thanksgiving Side Dishes, Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.